October 03, 2002

African-American head coaches in the NFL average 1.1 more wins per year and 28 percent more playoff seasons as their counterparts, yet they are the "last hired and first fired," according to Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities, a report by attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri. The NFL should award draft picks for diversity in hiring, recommends Cochran, who may take the issue to court. Overall, 27 percent of all NFL assistants and other coaches are African-American, according to the Miami Herald.

posted by rcade to football at 09:53 AM - 9 comments

First, clearly Cochran is fighting a good fight. There arenít enough black coaches in the NFL. Thatís clear and it needs to change. The problem I have with Cochran is in his tactics and they irk me on a couple of fronts. Does anyone know if Cochran went to the NFL before he made his statements? Did he try the work the problem with those who affect change in the league or did he just make an end run to the press and start making threats? The NFL has proven itself concerned with these issues and is making efforts to remedy things. (See the end of the Herald link). If theyíre willing to work with you, and if some progress is being made, why not go to them, talk about what they're doing and offer to help? Second, he gives no credence to the idea that this is a long process. You canít simply start in one year and the next have the problem fixed. Getting one of the 30-plus head coaching positions in the NFL is a long and difficult process. Candidates are trained, groomed and learn at lower levels within the sport before they make that leap. And when you look at it, first you have to affect the hiring of graduate assistants in college, assistant coaches at all levels, coordinators and then youíll have qualifies candidates for head coaching jobs. The numbers at the assistant and coordinator levels are growing, and in my mind, it will follow suit that the head coaching numbers will do the same in the next five years or so. By airing this over the press and ignoring these things, Cochran is setting up those heís trying to help. Now, any and every minority hiring in the NFL will be looked on not as a credit to the individual, but as concession to Cochranís demands.

posted by 86 at 01:28 PM on October 03, 2002

Draft picks!? That will win white fans of opposing teams over. The NFL has been making a good effort, it will take time. Marvin Lewis not getting a head coach spot was a travesty.

posted by McBain at 01:31 PM on October 03, 2002

To stimulate the hiring of African-Americans as head coaches, Cochran proposed that commissioner Paul Tagliabue "reward at least one team each year for developing a diverse front office" with a draft pick. Great idea Johnnie. Maybe the Rams could replace Mike Martz and his crew with some minorities in order to replace some of those draft picks they'll be missing for the next few years. My suggestions would be Nanook Lee for head coach (half Korean, half Eskimo) and Flipper Jones for defensive coordinator (mother: African-American, father: possibly a manatee). Yeah, there's no way this could get out of hand.

posted by Samsonov14 at 01:45 PM on October 03, 2002

The NFL has been given plenty of time to do the right thing, but the difficulty that Tony Dungy, Marvin Lewis, and others have faced getting jobs is ridiculous. Sherm Lewis won five Super Bowls as an assistant coach with the 49ers and Packers, but he was never even interviewed for a head coaching job until Dallas talked to him in 1998. Even then, they chose a spare with an incredibly weak resume -- Chan Gailey -- over the vastly more qualified Lewis. I'm glad a headline-grabbing showboat like Cochran is on their ass. Maybe it will result in some more accountability from owners who aren't even bothering to consider African-American head coaches, much less hire one.

posted by rcade at 04:43 PM on October 03, 2002

Affirmative action in the NFL is just as bad as AA in other places in society. No group has a right to any job. Not whites, not blacks, not any other minority. AA doesn't bring the races together, it divides them. 86 is right that hiring more minority coaches will take time, but the game doesn't need Johnnie Cochran threatening lawsuits. Where would a forced AA program end? Would a team be prevented from firing their minority head coach because it could drop the NFL below some defined percentage? The best way to get more minorities hired is to put public pressure on owners.

posted by shackbar at 11:57 PM on October 03, 2002

A week ago, the Milwaukee Brewers hired a gentleman named Ulice Payne Jr. to be the teamís new President. As many other Club Presidents, Mr. Payneís background is not in baseball, but it is very impressive nonetheless. He was a forward on a NCAA championship basketball team, a managing partner in a prominent Milwaukee law firm, and he has been active in civic affairs, including aiding the Brewers in the construction of Miller Park. There is plenty moreÖ and yet when I first heard about his hiring on a television show the other day, the first detail mentioned was that Ulice Payne Jr. is the first African-American to hold such a position with a major league club. More importantly, the initial question posed to the panel on the show was, "Is this just a PR ploy by Bud Selig?Ē I canít even think of the right word to describe how insulting I think that is. Put yourself in Mr. Payneís shoes and think about what that means about your career and about your new job. A public relations ploy? Ugh. I understand the importance of someone being the first, but it should be celebrated, not questioned. Just keep this in mind when African Americanís start getting head coaching jobs in the NFL and people begin to wonder aloud if it was because of his skin and not on the merits of his resume. If Mr. Cochran had his way, thatís exactly what would happen. The best way to get more minority coaches in the NFL is to support their growth as professionals, especially at the earliest levels.

posted by 86 at 09:54 AM on October 04, 2002

Iím not a big fan myself, but Chan Gailey does not have an "Incredibly weak resume."

posted by 86 at 09:58 AM on October 04, 2002

I think the greatest argument against what Cochran's saying is that they don't like Cochran... But anyway, but the players will bring the greatest change as far as hiring at the college and pro level. The sooner those guys wise up, the better the climate will become for African-American coaches. When high school prospects look at colleges, it wouldn't be a bad idea to consider their chances of getting hired for a high-profile job at that college 15 or 20 years down the road. Some colleges, like Stanford, have been great. Others, like the whole SEC, should be avoided. Marvin Lewis not only didn't get a gig in the NFL, but he didn't even get a call-back from four major college programs that had openings after the 2000 season. If I'm a prospect, I'm very skeptical of my chances to become a head football coach at those places 20 or 25 years in the future. It's a little different in the NFL, but if you're playing for the Jets or Colts and free agency is coming up, might it be worth forgoing a couple of million -- when you're already making two or three mil -- so you can help this coach succeed. Now, all bets are off if the coach is a dick, if you need the money, if your college program is stacked at your position, or if it's too far from home, or just don't care. But the talent is in the best position to send the strongest message to college administrators and NFL owners. Because, contrary to what some posters have said, there are "qualified" people of color, right now, who should be a part of the candidate pool.

posted by jackhererra at 11:07 AM on October 04, 2002

86: At the time Gailey was hired by the Cowboys, the only big accomplishment on his resume was a few seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before that, it was completely rinky-dink stuff: He was head coach at two small schools (Troy State and Samford) and a World League team. No African-American coach would ever be considered for a head coaching job with a resume that thin.

posted by rcade at 05:48 PM on October 04, 2002

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.